Your employees may be fast, but filling and capping machines are faster and more accurate.
Many essential oils manufacturers begin production with manual operations to keep costs down. But as sales pick up and demand increases, employees’ limits will quickly be exceeded, and there may be backups and slowdowns when getting products out the door. Filling and capping by hand as opposed to using a machine is a laborious and imprecise process and is definitely going to cost you more in the long run. With nearly $19 billion worth of market demand and rising, you can’t afford to lag.
Assessing Your Essential Oil Packing Line
How do you know it’s time to upgrade to a liquid filling machine and a capping machine? Check the following metrics and see if your current line is satisfying in these areas:
- Speed (Bottles Per Minute): Can your employees accurately fill and cap up to 30 bottles per minute? Machines can.
- Accuracy: A filling machine can precisely fill each bottle with the exact same amount of liquid every time.
- Budget: Are you paying overtime to make sure your bottles are getting filled? Employees’ time may be better spent elsewhere in your operation. A single machine can work faster than any employee and will never call out sick or go on vacation.
Which Essential Oil Equipment is Right For You?
Before we break down the various features of filling machines and capping machines, you have to ask yourself how much work you want the machine to do vs. your employees. In other words, do you need manual, semi-automatic, or automatic equipment?
Manual Filling Machines & Capping Machines
- Best for small, entry-level companies with low production rates
- Least expensive option
- Slowest option
- Low space requirements
Semi-automatic Filling Machines & Capping Machines
- Best for companies who are looking to grow
- Automated, but requires some manual operation
- Good production rate
- Modest space requirements
Automatic Filling Machine & Capping Machines
- Best for large companies with high production rates
- Fully automated
- Fastest option for greatest productivity
- Higher price-point
- Largest space requirements
Filling Machines: As an essential oils manufacturer, you need to know your product thoroughly. Specifically, you should know exactly how viscous your oils are to make the right equipment choice. To find this out, you can use a viscometer before purchasing a filling machine. Liquid viscosity can be:
- Viscous – Thick liquids such as gels, lotions, and pastes
- Semi-viscous – Medium-thick liquids such as syrup or oil
- Water-like – Free-flowing liquids, including most beverages and perfumes
There are two types of filling machines you need to be aware of:
- Piston Pump: These are highly accurate filling machines, having a margin of error of less than half a percent. Piston filling machines also handle viscous fluids extremely well. The downside is they can be messy to clean, so you may have downtime between batches if you only have one filling machine.
- Peristaltic Pump: These types of filling machines are less precise, generally with an accuracy range between 1-2%, and work best with less viscous fluids. Where they excel, however, is clean up. As opposed to piston pumps, which require thorough cleaning, peristaltic pump filling machines only need to have their tubing cleaned, meaning there’s less downtime between batches.
You may also face a choice between liquid level and volumetric filling machines. It is recommended that you avoid liquid level machines and instead opt for volumetric filling. Since not every bottle is manufactured exactly the same way, filling a bottle to a specific level may mean there’s more or less essential oil than intended. Volumetric filling ensures the same amount of oil ends up in each bottle.
Capping Machines: Improper capping can result in a variety of problems, including leaking bottles, broken frangible (tamper-evident seals), cross-threaded caps, and even labels not sticking due to said leaks. When an employee is at the end of a long day, they’re not going to be as cautious as they were at the start of a shift. You can’t expect them to cap thousands of bottles across 8 hours perfectly. There are two main types of bottle capping machines:
- Chuck: These capping machines work best with traditional threaded caps. They’re quick and efficient and can process high volumes of bottles with no issues.
- Spindle: If your essential oils come in oddly shaped bottles with irregular caps, spindle capping machines are far better at accommodating the unusual shapes.
Here are some other metrics by which you should judge your potential machine purchases:
- Torque: When choosing a capping machine, you want to make sure it can use just the right amount of torque. No air in, no air out is the goal. Any quality capping machine should be able to perform its job with repeatable and specific torque.
- Container Materials: You’ll need to make sure your bottle’s materials work with your machine. If the bottling or capping equipment you choose is meant for use with thick glass bottles, it might not work well with light plastic bottles that won’t be supported enough as they move through the machine.
- Usability: Your machines should not be confusing to use. Any new machine will require training, but the learning curve shouldn’t be so steep that your employees find the machine’s interface impossible to understand.
- Durability: Filling and capping machines run constantly, so you need equipment made of strong, wear-resistant, rust-proof materials.
- Portability: Being able to move your equipment to different parts of the line or even out of the line for servicing means more flexibility for your whole operation.
- Serviceability: Only buy equipment backed by outstanding service and easily sourced parts.
Choosing the Right Filling & Capping Partner
Explore Pack Leader USA’s full line of filling and capping equipment for the essential oils industry and find the right machines to transform your packing line. Our entry-level semi/automatic filling and capping equipment has a shallow learning curve, slots easily into just about any existing line, and works for nearly every budget.
As always, we’re here to help, so if you need one-on-one advice, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation.
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